Out here, in the quiet, cool calm of the countryside, dawn approached Harriet Fulster. She sat upon a grey tree trunk, over which she had placed her grey wool overcoat, in anticipation of splinters and insects. She had in her left hand a pocket watch of amazing detail and ancestry. It had been handed down throughout the various and varied branches of her truly twisted family tree. As a child, she’d known nothing of its existence. As an adult, she had continued in her ignorance of the device. She’d seen nary a glimpse of its heavily wrought gold chain nor had she been given a chance to pop open the filigreed case to listen to the delicate ticking of the second hand. Not one relative had ever approached her on her birthday, pulled her into the living room, beckoned with a wink, then revealed to her, in pompous glory and highly exciting circumstances this this instrument of such obviously exotic and grand origins.

Instead, this morning, Harriet woke to the smell of spices so foreign she had no name for them, except perhaps “exotic” or “roccoco.” The smell had penetrated her dreams so that for the last seconds before she woke, her bicycling tour through fields of grain in the south of France, with Albert Einstein as tour guide, had transitioned effortlessly to a strange and fey road through pillared archways and around miniature palaces made of molten gold.

The same molten gold that seemed to fill the inside of the watch case. The molten gold held numbers and hands, of course, because she could tell the time as soon as she opened the case. She had awakened from her dream at 6:23 am by her digital clock/radio. By the time she opened the leather box in which the pocket watch had been encased, it was exactly an hour and twenty five minutes ’til the sun rose. But it also seemed as though the numbers and hands appeared as a concession to her senses rather than out of necessity.

Harriet held out the pocket watch in her hand, chain running the length of her arm, following the line of her seam to the front pocket of her blouse, where it was clipped to a brooch of a blazing sun, made from sunstone streaked with jasper. Her eyes wandered over the details on the filligreed cover. She hadn’t noticed before but etched into the top was a small scenario. A type of Roman frieze that one would expect to encounter in the hallowed halls of a large and lofty museum or gallery. Certainly not on a mysterious watch found on a bedstand in a house in the middle of nowhere by a bit of a no one really.

She watched as the brightening sky brought the etching into sharper relief, and showed her a scene from myth. It was a goddess, probably Aurora, drawing a chariot pulled by two wild eyed horses. A trail fell away behind her, leading to a mountain behind which the sun was beginning to rise. The detail and beauty made Harriet catch her breath, causing a stuttering trail of cloud to emanate from her mouth into the cool autumn air.

TBC* . .

 *Where is Harriet going and where has she come from? Is she another Athena, sprung fully formed from the mind of her progenitor? Or did she live a full and happy life ’til the watch came along to complicate matters?

What’s Albert Einstein got to do with anything?  Does Aurora make an appearance?  What does the watch do? Relativity? Cyber/Steampunk?  Alexander Lloyd, Time Cat – Time travel, different eras/worlds

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